Sunday, April 23, 2017

Happy St. George's Day, 2017.

Who is this international dog of mystery?  It's just my faithful Vinodog 2 celebrating St. George's Day.  Yes, today is the Feast of Saint George and V2 and I are dressed appropriately for the occasion.  And I've been singing Jerusalem all day.
I wish I had timed my holiday a bit better, so that I could've celebrated St. George's Day in England this year.  Unfortunately, I departed "England's pleasant pastures" 48 hours too early.  Perhaps next year.
Happy St. George's Day to my family, friends and any dog who loves England as much as I do.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Brimstage Brewery.

Today, I went for an informative tour of a small brewery located close to where Thud lives. Situated in a modest building in the yard of a dairy farm, Brimstage Brewery produce about 5 different beers - including my favourite offering of theirs, Trapper's Hat.
Brimstage Brewery's head brewer, Adam Williams, gave me and my fellow Trapper's Hat fan, Monkey, a fantastic tour of the compact brewing facility and walked us through the entire beer making process. So interesting.  I even got to taste a few different types of malt and smell several different varieties of hops. Wonderful stuff, thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The take away.

I love cheap and cheerful, in almost anything, and at £5.00 a bottle (approximately $6.50) this wine was definitely cheap - and quite cheerful.
Purchased at Sainsbury's, The Takeout, 2015 Sangiovese (Rubicone IGT) was just the wine to pair with Thud's pasta bake; a hearty dish of baked ziti, meatballs and tons of cheese - which we ate in.  Whilst I would have liked a little bit more acid (though, unfortunately, I think I did detect a bit of VA), The Takeout was smooth, plummy and quite easy to drink.  
The label on the bottle (funnily enough, most info about this wine is on the front label), recommends drinking this wine with tacos and burritos, amongst other things.  Good English fare?  Hee, hee, I think not.  Saying that, it is a commonly held misconception that English people do not like spicy food.  On the contrary, Mexican food may be eaten in England now, but the English have been shovelling down curry for more than 250 years. But marketing is marketing and the whole, "Enjoy fine dining from the comfort of your couch" and "Great wine to take away" is this wine-peddler's schtick. Especially when paired with the slightly silly food pairing suggestions, (see what I did there?)
Oh, and happy International Malbec Day.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Yeaster, 2017.

Sorry, but I couldn't resist using the pun, Yeaster, supplied by the manufacturer of this Easter egg.  Titter, titter.
It is Easter Sunday and, as is the tradition in England, a lot of chocolate eggs have been exchanged: big, tasty chocolate Easter eggs.  My Lenten fast ended just before breakfast this morning with my first taste of chocolate since February.  Yum!
I may not have had a lot of fermented grape juice since I have been home, but Thud wanted to make sure that I still had something yeasty. So he bought me this Marmite egg to try.  Marmite is a spread made out of yeast; it is dark, sticky, smelly and extremely salty.  Lots of people love it, or hate it.  Thud and I never had Marmite when we were growing up, it wasn't something our Vinomum liked even, so we never acquired a taste for it.  I had cousins who liked Marmite and they would eat it spread on top of buttered bread.  Yuck!
The Marmite Easter egg tasted bizarre.  I wouldn't say that I hated it exactly, but Marmite flavoured chocolate is not something I would really want to eat again, (but I'll try anything once).  It was intensely salty.  If I wanted to be pretentious about it, I'd describe the taste as umami-like. Titter, titter, again.
Eat chocolate!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

A bunch of rosés.

Although there hasn't been much rain since I have been home it has been extremely blustery. Extremely blustery.  In other words, the weather has been anything but rosé-weather.  I was hoping that whilst I was here I could perhaps enjoy a glass, or two, of a nice pink vino with a leisurely lunch, or dinner.  No such luck. (Although I did have a nice glass of Frascati after the Grand National.)
If the weather had been nice, and a tasty rosé had been in order, I would probably have had a hard time picking just one to buy.  The selection of rosés available in the local Sainsbury's supermarket is rather extensive, I wish it was like that in my Napa supermarket.
I may still have time to partake of something pink, but only if the weather cooperates.  For now, I will just imagine that I am sitting in the Napa sun with a glass of a nicely chilled rosé in my hand and my trusty poochie, V2, who I am missing like mad, by my side.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The National.

Simply say The National to any English person and they will know exactly what one is referring to: just the greatest steeplechase in the universe, that's all.  The Grand National is an annual horse race which is held at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool.  The race is famous for having larger, and deeper, jumps than the common or garden steeplechase and it is run over a much longer distance, i.e., over 4 miles.  The race is a big event for Britons - even if one doesn't usually bet on the gee-gees, one will have a wager on The National.  The race has been run since 1839 and there have been a lot of winners.  But the 2017 race will mark 40 years since Red Rum, the most famous of all National winners, in an unsurpassed, historic feat, won his third and final Grand National.
I was excited to be home for The National this year, I love the spectacle of it all.  The entire family, even the 3 year old, got in on the act and placed bets (two horses each).  In fact, the horse the toddler picked came in first, a horse called One for Arthur.  (How did she do that?) Another niece and I both picked the horse that placed fourth, so we broke even money-wise, meanwhile the 3 year old is a big winner.  I still love the race, whether I win or lose.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Jefferson's Reserve.

I am always on the lookout for something unusual in the bourbon-department to buy for Thud.  I think this particular bottle of Jefferson's Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey fits the bill.
Jefferson's Reserve specialise in small, one-off batches of bourbon whiskey, or "very uncommon" and "ridiculously small batches" as the distillery likes to put it.  This particular small batch was finished off in retired French oak barrels that once held Groth Vineyards & Winery Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  I thought this would be a fun bourbon for him to try because of Thud's, and the bourbon's, connection to the Napa Valley.
I hope he likes it.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Get back...

...to where I once belonged, Part 10.
Yes, this evening I will be once again headed for home.
I love spring in England, in my opinion there is no prettier place on earth than the English countryside when the flora, and fauna, is fresh and renewed.  Hopefully, the weather will cooperate and I will actually be able to get outdoors and enjoy it.
A quick trip to Marks & Spencer is in order, at the beginning of my holiday this time, so that I can buy a bag of wine.  Yes, wine, in a bag.  I spotted this California Rosé in Marks & Spencer near the end of my last trip.  In the grey and damp of an English November, it didn't seem half as appealing to me as it does at the prospect of a warm, spring day.  And yes, the bag, a pouch really, does have a handle (Thud was holding it, so that I could photograph it).  I just have to try it.
As one can see, the bag also has a spigot, so no wine glass required.
Get back JoJo!

Sunday, April 02, 2017

A fortnight later.

It has been two whole weeks since I finished pruning in Vinoland, but today, finally, I noticed budbreak in the Cabernet Sauvignon vines.  It's not that budbreak is behind this year, it's just that I have a very definite schedule of my own this spring.  The vines are all behaving well. Well, perhaps all except the Orange Muscat vines which have about 8-9 inches of growth already - the little whippersnappers!  Growing season 2017 is definitely upon us.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Footie.

Whilst my favourite football Liverpool FC was busy beating rivals Everton FC 3-1 in today's Merseyside derby (on the other side of the pond), I was getting ready to attend a footie game a little closer to home.  Myself and a group of soccer enthusiasts from TWWIAGE had decided to spend our Saturday evening at the local high school's football stadium (hence the gridiron), cheering on the National Premier Soccer League's newest expansion team - Napa Valley 1839 FC.
With the splendid vista of Mt. George, the eastern hills and Coombsville in the background, my co-workers and I watched Napa's very own football team, playing in only the second match of their inaugural season, lose 0-2 to Sacramento Gold FC.  Oh dear.   I'd estimate that Napa Valley 1839 FC had a longer time of possession of the ball, but they just couldn't score. Better luck next time, boys.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

I love pie!

On Monday, I got a lovely surprise from my TWWIAGE co-worker, The Doodler, (the same co-worker that drew a Liverbird for me), and his better half, Pie-girl: a wonderful, Liverbird-adorned, apple-cranberry birthday pie.  It is absolutely delicious.  Yum!  I tell ya, it is a real pity that this photograph isn't scratch'n'taste.
The Doodler's better half has toyed with the idea of going into the pie-making business.  I don't know how feasible a pie-making business would be.  I would imagine there could be a problem with scalability, (i.e., supply and demand, and dealing with competitors), but I would invest in her because Pie-girl's products are scrumptious. Besides, I can't imagine that Pie-girl would be in danger of getting too many orders for Liverbird-pies.

Monday, March 27, 2017

I love Groth!

I blame it all on my sister, La Serenissima, who played a little bit of tennis in grammar school (with nuns!), but who, come British summertime, was glued to the telly for the entire fortnight of Wimbledon. I mean, nonstop.  And being 10 years younger, what was a little Vinogirl to do?  La Serenissima soon had me hooked. Nowadays, if I am not watching the news, or something English on PBS, I am watching tennis. Only now, I get to blame my fondness for the game on Vinomaker, who does actually play tennis 3 or 4 times a week.
I tried learning to play tennis a few years ago (a funny story in itself), but I wasn't very good, as, alas, most English people aren't.  So, in lieu of having countrymen and women to cheer on, I gravitated towards the Australian players who were all just so good at chasing that little white ball - I'm showing my age - around the court.
Tennis is hard, really hard, and that's why I appreciate a player like Sam Groth, a current Australian player on the ATP tour.  Sam has the distinction of having the fastest serve on record, (that's serve, actually getting the ball in play), which was clocked at an incredible 163.4 mph.
I love tennis.  And I have it on good authority that Sam is "a big wine fan".
Go Grothy!
Photograph courtesy of Samuel Groth, professional tennis player.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Happy Mother's Day, mum.

It is Mothering Sunday in England, or Mother's Day as it is more commonly known.  And here is my mum, all smiley and young.  In her day, my mother used to be fond of a glass of Merlot, or a nice Rioja, but she doesn't drink much anymore. However, her real poison was Cognac, preferably Martell, although she did have a soft spot for Louis XIII (Rémy Martin), thanks to Thud.
In England, Mothering Sunday falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent and, as it has its origins in Christianity, is not really related to the American Mother's Day, which is celebrated in May (other than honouring mothers, that is). Of course, I am partial to the English Mother's Day because I am English. But also because it signals that the end of my Lenten fast is now only three weeks away.  All things chocolate be warned.  But, I digress.
Happy Mothering Sunday to all (English) mothers.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

It's birthday time.

Ta da!  Another birthday, what fun!
I had a great day, thanks to Vinomaker.  A wine tasting at Reynolds Family Winery (interesting), lunch at The Oxbow (duck taco, followed by a passion fruit cupcake) and dinner at Eiko's (lots of sushi, yum).
At dinner, I took advantage of Eiko's Wine Wednesday wine list and enjoyed a very refreshing glass of Albariño; a 2014 Calavera Wines, Dragone Vineyard (Calaveras County AVA).  And a few sips of some other good stuff. A very agreeable day.
Oh...and Happy Birthday John Toshack.
Vinogirl loves birthdays.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Don't rain on my Syrah.

A fine first day of spring this turned out to be: the rain is back.  It seems that I really did finish pruning in the nick of time.
At breakfast this morning, as I sleepily gazed out of the window, I thought I noticed a little fuzz of green in the Syrah vines.  Sure enough, this evening, upon closer inspection, in the rain, with V2 in tow (who had the expectation of going for a walk when I got home from TWWIAGE, not looking at some upright twigs in a downpour), I can confirm that budbreak is happening in the Syrah.  I am happy that the vines are having a great start to growing-season 2017, but they do look a little forlorn and soggy.